Can you hear the cacophony starting? It's the sound of yapping about the size of ExxonMobil's
It'll make little difference that the magnitude of Exxon's earnings -- $11.68 billion, or $2.22 per share, compared to $10.26 billion and $1.83 a share in the year-ago quarter -- is really a far less meaningful indicator of the company's health than its 8% slide from a year ago in production on an oil-equivalent basis. And even if you back out the effects of major production-cutting events during the past year, like the expropriation of the company's Venezuelan assets and outages in Nigeria, production still fell by 3%. That's bad stuff for a company that generates the majority of its revenue from the sale of oil and gas.
As was expected, and as was certainly the case at ConocoPhillips
For my money -- and I don't want to crush my Foolish friends under a pile of numbers -- there are a couple of other metrics you should know about. The first is that the Wall Street types had been looking for about $2.52 a share in earnings, so the company fell $0.30 short. But I continue to maintain that Exxon is far too complex and geographically diversified for earnings estimates to be given the import they typically are. Nevertheless, the miss hit the company's share price on Thursday.
The other number is the $8 billion the company spent buying back its own stock in the quarter. For perspective, Exxon could have bought SunPower
Given my concerns over sliding production, though, I'm inclined to guide Fools more toward the oilfield services and independent E&Ps at this point in time -- namely, Schlumberger
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